Temperature Monitoring in Food Warehouses
Environmental monitoring throughout the cold chain is essential to ensure that temperatures are accurately maintained at specified levels and recorded for ongoing verification.
Temperature monitoring in warehouses and storage areas containing food and drink products is governed by specific regulations, including HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) controls. This means that food safety hazards are identified and monitored and ensures that controls are in place to eliminate or minimise risks to consumers.This relates to frozen, chilled and ambient storage conditions.
Food Hygiene Regulations
The UK Food Standards Agency provides guidance about temperature control requirements to help with implementation of Article 5 of EC Regulation 852/2004 and The Food Hygiene Regulations 2006, which require food business operators to maintain procedures based on HACCP principles. The Guidelines help explain the above legislation in the UK which should be understood in the general context of the food safety management procedures based on these principles. The general principles apply to foods that are required to be held under temperature control, both chill and hot holding, including dairy products; cooked products such as meat, fish, and eggs; prepared or ready-to-eat foods, etc.
The Guidelines also state that "Temperature monitoring and logging may be helpful as part of food safety management procedures" and highlight the need for good record keeping.1
For products labelled as 'quick-frozen', European Union QFF (quick-frozen foodstuffs ) Regulations stipulate that "The means of transport, warehousing and storage of quick-frozen foodstuffs shall be fitted with suitable recording instruments to monitor, at frequent and regular intervals, the air temperature to which the quick-frozen foodstuffs are subjected".2
The temperature on thermal stabilization must be -18°C or colder. This temperature must be maintained except for brief periods during transport (including local distribution) where it may reach -15°C, or when in retail display cabinets where it may reach -12°C.
EU legislation concerning temperature monitoring regimes for the cold chain handling of QFF requires monitoring equipment used in transport, warehousing and storage to meet Europe-wide standards established by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN).3
There is a requirement that temperature records shall be dated and stored by the food operator for a period of at least a year and that all measuring instruments, used for that purpose, must comply with EN 12830, EN 13485 and EN 13486 standards.2
BS EN 12830
The BS EN 12830 European Standard specifies the technical and functional characteristics of air temperature recorders for equipping the means used for the transport, storage and distribution of chilled, frozen and deep-frozen/quick-frozen food and ice cream. It applies to data loggers, which are used throughout the industry to help ensure that temperatures are maintained correctly and recorded for ongoing documentation, verification and validation.
BS EN 12830 specifies the test methods which allow the determination of the equipment's conformity to suitability and performance requirements. The temperature sensor(s) may be integrated into the recorder - data loggers with built-in sensors; or remote from it - data loggers with probes.
Using data loggers for temperature monitoring in food storage facilities
Monitoring with both stand alone Tinytag data loggers and the Radio Data Logging System provides an accurate, flexible and easy to use solution for temperature monitoring in food and drink warehouses and storage areas. Tinytags are able to measure small changes in temperature, and loggers with external probes are available to provide monitoring in hard to reach areas, fridges and freezers. Loggers can be moved to different locations, or more units added over time to build profiles throughout a site, or as premises or the area to be monitored expand.
Tinytag Explorer software presents the recorded results clearly and in detail, and allows data from different logging runs to be combined for comparison and analysis. Data is presented initially in graphs and tables which can easily be printed, copied and pasted, or exported into popular software packages.
Standalone temperature data loggers
Standalone data loggers offer a cost-effective solution. They are ideal for initial warehouse temperature mapping: they can be left to record in particular areas then moved as required, and the recorded data used to provide an overall profile of environmental conditions throughout a facility. Their battery life means they can be left to record for long periods if required.
If conditions fall outside the pre-defined range, alarm warnings are indicated by a red flashing LED on the logger, or an audible alarm box which is available for some models. The Tinytag View 2 logger has a digital display which includes an alarm icon.
Radio data loggers
The Tinytag Radio Data Logging System is ideal for larger premises, such as warehouse or storage areas, with multiple monitoring points, or those requiring immediate central access to readings, as well as logging over time. Radio loggers gather data automatically and send it using wireless communications via a receiver for viewing on a PC, across a LAN, or remotely across the internet.
Radio loggers can be left to record in inaccessible areas or at height, for example, without having to access them to manually download data. A mains powered option is also available if required.
If conditions fall outside the predefined range, notifications appear in the software. Warnings can also be sent via email or SMS text messages, enabling corrective action to be initiated even if no-one is present on site.
As well as the robust Tinytag Radio loggers which are ideal for warehouse monitoring and logistics applications, Tinytag Ultra Radio units can be used as part of the system for more discreet monitoring in offices and public areas if required.
Radio data loggers can also be used in logistics operations, monitoring temperature in refrigerated delivery vehicles and storing data locally while the vehicle is out, then automatically offloading it once returned to the depot and within range of the radio mesh network.
Guidance on Temperature Control Legislation in the United Kingdom,
EC Regulation 852/2004, Food Standards Agency September 2007 Point
2. The Quick-frozen Foodstuffs (England) Regulations 2007 Article 2.1 and 2.2
3. Explanatory Memorandum to the Quick-Frozen Foodstuffs (England) Regulations 2007 Sections 4.1